At Fenway Park on Wednesday, David Price was almost unhittable, coming one mistake away from joining a prestigious list of four pitchers who have shut out the Red Sox over nine innings since 2011.
It wasn't just what he did, it was how he did it.
Price pounded the strike zone, attacking Red Sox hitters and negating their patient approach that's allowed them to see more pitches per plate appearances than any team in the Majors. He needed just 97 pitches over nine innings, throwing 72 strikes, in a dominant performance.
"He was throwing strikes all night long," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Up until about the sixth inning he was around 80 percent strikes, which is almost unheard of. Power stuff, stayed out over the middle of the plate, and with the exception of [Mike Napoli's] solo home run, he never gave us a chance to build any kind of an inning. Tip your hat, he pitched one heck of a game against us."
On Monday, the Rays return to Fenway Park for one game following Thursday's rainout, and Price has a chance to become the first pitcher in more than 70 years to beat the Red Sox at Fenway twice in five days.
The last two pitchers to turn the trick were Rip Collins for the St. Louis Browns in 1931 and Lefty Grove with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1929.
With the Rays' resurgence, in which they've won 21 of their last 25 games, has come the unveiling of their new-look starting rotation. Chris Archer, Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson have been nearly unbeatable in July. And at the front of the rotation has been Price, who has been one of the best pitchers in baseball since his return from the 15-day disabled list on July 2.
In his five starts since, Price has thrown 41 innings, struck out 27 batters and walked just one. His ERA over that span is 1.76.
"I do feel very good," he said. "But it's a mindset. You hear it all the time. Once you have that mindset one time out there, you really grasp the concept of what it means. A lot of guys say they have the right mindset, but they really don't know what that mindset is. Once you can have that feeling out there on the mound and be able to duplicate that five days later, or the next day if you're a reliever, then you kind of understand what it is. To have that mindset is a big part of pitching."
And with the standings as close as they are, with the Red Sox holding a half-game lead over the Rays in the American League East, these games have a playoff feel.
"They know the team they have in that locker room," Price said of the Red Sox. "They're a confident group and we're a confident group. They're not going to back down from any challenge and neither are we. It is like a playoff series facing the same team two times in a row. But I'm going to go out there and attack the hitters. Some of them the same way and some of them a little different.
"Whenever you're out there on the mound, it's a game within a game -- the thinking between the hitters and the pitchers. You've got to try and keep them on their toes. Make sure you're not pitching them the exact same way you did the last time. Obviously, the way I got them out, they're going to be looking at that in those situations."
The Red Sox counter with Felix Doubront, who is on one impressive run, having gone 13 straight starts without allowing more than three earned runs.
The talented lefty held Tampa Bay to three runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings last week.
Rays: Myers on a tear
The Rays are 26-10 since Wil Myers joined the club on June 18. In the last 50 years, only six players have matched his total for hits (42), homers (five) and RBIs (22) through their first 32 games.
Ryan Braun and Albert Pujols are on that list.
Myers homered two more times in Sunday's 6-5 loss to the Yankees.
Red Sox: Carp earning more playing time
Mike Carp got the nod in left field Sunday against the Orioles, playing on two straight days for the first time in more than two weeks.
But the way he's swung the bat this season, posting a .324 average, Carp could see himself in the lineup more frequently.
"He's done a heck of a job when called upon," said Farrell. "You might look down and say he should get more at-bats coming up here, the way he's been swinging the bat, and he just well might."
• This will be the seventh one-game series in Rays history. They're 0-6 in such games.
• Farrell remained confident on Sunday that David Ortiz would not be facing a suspension following his ejection on Saturday and subsequent beating of the dugout phone with his bat.